Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A busy day of news (and a beef about 3D)

"It's so similar to the toilet scene in 'Trainspotting.' "
- Danny Boyle, with feces on his mind in Variety

There's quite a bit of news out there today, but since I like to stand in the way of speeding trains and enjoy my favorite TV shows without getting a headache, can I please first make a plea for an end to 3D gimmicks on TV?

Last night's episode of "Chuck" would have been perfectly enjoyable in the 2D format, but since I was watching it with just my old-fashioned specs on, it did indeed get more than a little on my nerves by the finish. Did anyone actually watch this with the 3D glasses on, and, if so, was there really any reason for this beyond NBC clearly being in constant need of attention?

OK, enough of that. The best thing I could find out there this morning is that Martin Scorsese is finally getting back to making another religious movie, and bringing some big names along to do it. "Kundun" has lasted as my second favorite Scorsese movie (after only the sublimely silly "After Hours"), so this is certainly good news.

"Silence," which will be his next feature film, takes place in 17th century Japan and follows the tale of two Jesuit priests who travel there and face violence and persecution on their mission. Even better, as best as I can tell, Daniel Day-Lewis and Benicio Del Toro will play the two priests, and Gael Garcia Bernal will also be along for the ride.

That all sounds well and good, but Mr. Scorsese will of course have another movie coming out well before this, the recently wrapped "Shutter Island," which should just be a heck of a lot of fun next October. In that one, based on the novel by Dennis Lehane, Leo DiCaprio plays a U.S. Marshal who is investigating the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane and is presumed to be hiding on the remote isle. Very cool.

Finally, a movie about the war on terror I might actually enjoy?

Actually, Kimberly Pierce's "Stop-Loss" was pretty good, but since that was about the Iraq war I guess it's at least a slightly different subject.

Now, however, no less than Aaron Sorkin is returning to the military courtroom to pen "The Challenge," which takes on the topic of the prison at Gitmo (and, if Barack Obama actually gets his way, this might oddly enough come out right about the time the Guantanamo Bay prison closes.)

George Clooney is producing, may direct and wants to star in the flick as Navy lawyer Charles Swift, who led the drive to ensure a fair trial for Osama Bin Laden's driver, Salim Hamdan, who had been held at Gitmo for five years.

Captured in 2001 in Afghanistan while transporting two missiles in a car, Hamdan was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 5 1/2 years by a military commission for providing material support to Al-Qaeda. He was cleared of the terrorism conspiracy charges that would have drawn a much longer sentence.

Any news about Aaron Sorkin writing (and not for television!) is good news in this corner. If you haven't seen "Charlie Wilson's War," you're missing out on a sharp satire, so rent it already. And Sorkin is thankfully keeping very busy nowadays, having already penned "The Trial of the Chicago 7," which Ben Stiller (!?!?) is directing for Dreamworks, and is now also working on a flick about the formation of Facebook, which I am somehow on even though I don't yet even have a cell phone.

Woody's returning to New York, and I might even get to see it

Purely by coincidence, I was watching that great "Seinfeld" episode recently in which Kramer manages to get a line ("these pretzels are making me thirsty!") in a Woody Allen flick before getting fired from the set.

In a case of art imitating reality and coming back around to art, "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David is starring in Woody Allen's next flick, "Whatever Works," which Sony Pictures Classics has now picked up and will hopefully distribute wide enough to reach my little corner of the world when this comes out later this year.

In Woody's return to Manhattan (finally!), here (according to Wikipedia, at least) is what the flick starring Mr. David, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Begley Jr., Patricia Clarkson, Kristen Johnston and Michael McKean is about: "The film is a dark comedy starring Larry David as an eccentric man from Greenwich Village who gets caught up in a series of love stories which get him tangled up with a young girl from the South (Evan Rachel Wood) and her parents."

Well, I guess Woody casting someone else as the dirty old man rather than himself is some kind of progress, and Larry David is just an extremely funny guy, so I can only say bring it on.


OK, I have to get ready for work soon, so two quick hits and then I'll go. Did you know that Spike Lee unveiled a documentary this year at Sundance? I didn't, until this morning. Called "Pushing Strange," it focused Lee's camera on the final three performances of the Broadway musical of the same name. The show is about a young black musician growing up in Los Angeles in the 1970s and his quest to find "the real." As cheesy as that might sound, I'm betting this will be nothing but cool if I ever get to see it. Besides, with "When the Levees Broke," "The Original Kings of Comedy" and my favorite, "Four Little Girls," on his resume, I'd say Mr. Lee knows a thing or two about making compelling documentaries.

And, finally, Julian Schnabel has tapped Hiam Abbas to star in "Miral," a movie he's making about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Schnabel will write and direct the adaptation of Italo-Palestinian Rula Jebreal's book about the real-life Palestinian woman Hind Husseini, who started the Dar Al-Tifl orphanage in Jerusalem in the wake of the 1948 partition of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. And, best of all, Abbas, who starred in one of my favorite flicks of 2008 in "The Visitor," will presumable play the lead role, so definitely keep your eyes on this one. Peace, appropriately enough, out.

Actually, to make hopefully any Tuesday a little better, here's that "These pretzels are making me thirsty" clip, still one of my favorite "Seinfeld" bits. Enjoy!


jeremy said...

Looking forward to Schnabel's next flick for sure. I can do without Spike Lee joints, but know what I just heard today?
(And please excuse me, I'm about to gay all over the place.)
Lauren Graham is gonna be on the Great White Way in Guys and Dolls (I just typo'd Guts, ha!). AND Anne Hathaway and Sean Hayes in Promises, Promises--which is the musical version of one of my favorite movies The Apartment.
So I guess I'll have to head to NYC in the next year.

Reel Fanatic said...

If I lived anywhere near NYC I'd definitely shell out the bucks to go see Guys and Dolls, especially for Lauren Graham of course ... When it comes to Sean Hayes, however, I'm afraid I can't stand him in anything I've seen, so I'd just have to pass on that

Cullen said...

The whole 3D thing was just a gimmick. It was kind of neat looking in spots, but painful if you kept the glasses on too long (which is my problem with all old-style 3D movies).

However, Disney's digital 3D in theaters is fantastic. No more red/blue glasses and it doesn't hurt to look through the new glasses for long periods of time. We saw bolt when it came out and was floored at how good it was. It really did add an extra, pardon the pun, dimension to the film. I look forward to seeing both Monsters vs. Aliens and Coraline in 3D. Just keep it off my TV until I can get it in a way that doesn't require the red and blue glasses. Those hurt.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'll definitely give it a chance with the animated flick, Cullen, especially "Coraline" ... I've been reading a few reviews of that one today, and it just sounds incredible

Mercurie said...

I only caught the tail end of Chuck, having worked late, but I can second your thoughts just from what little I saw with only my contact lenses. I think 3-D is ultimately something that works on the big screen. And even then, its appeal doesn't seem to last long for audiences!

Bob said...

I'm with you on the 3-D thing. "Chuck" is probably my second favorite show these days (number one being "Mad Men") and it was a decent episode but the 3-D was entirely unnecessary. I'm hoping the DVD will include the 2-D option.

Reel Fanatic said...

I haven't bothered yet, but I think you can watch the episode in 2-D at Hulu now if you want to ... It was an average episode at best in any dimension, so I think I'll hold out